Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hidden Gem: The Hotel Mulberry

Located in a recently converted parking garage in the heart of New York City's Chinatown and just blocks away from Little Italy, the Hotel Mulberry offers a luxury experience at a modest price (at least by New York standards, that is). On a recent visit to New York, we stayed at the Mulberry for two nights. Our room, located on the penthouse floor, was spectacular. The room was exceptionally large for a New York hotel and like the rest of the hotel, immaculately clean. Our room boasted a king bed, lounge chair, desk, television stand (with a large smart television on top with DirecTV) that doubled as a chest of drawers and a relatively large bathroom.

But by far, the most spectacular part of the room was the bank of floor to ceiling windows that lined one side of the room. The windows offered a truly unparalled view of the new World Trade Center and the lower Manhattan skyline. Overlooking Columbus Park, we were also  able to see the Tai Chi practioners performing their exercises every morning and the soccer players playing every evening in the well-used park.

The hotel does not have a restaurant, but offers free vouchers for breakfast for two guests at a nearby restaurant. In addition, when we asked on of the desk clerks (all of whom were extremely courteous and helpful)  for a recommendation for lunch,  she suggested the Amazing66 at 66 Mott Street, two blocks from the hotel.  We lunched there on authentic Chinese food for a very modest price. Most entrees were $5.95 and included your choice of white or brown rice and soup. I opted for the walnut chicken and sweet and sour soup and was not disappointed. I should also mention that the restaurant is Zagat rated.

For those of you (like us) crazy enough to drive into New York City, two doors down from the hotel is a parking garage, offering indoor, secure parking for $35 a day. It location also offers easy access to the Holland Tunnel when entering or leaving the city.

The Hotel Mulberry is located at 52 Mulberry Street, two blocks from Canal Street, in New York City's Chinatown. We will go back the next time we are in New York and we hope you will make it your choice for lodging on your next visit as well. You will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Casbah

No, not that Casbah in Algiers, Algeria. No, this post is about the Casbah restaurant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Located at the confluence of the Shadyside and East Liberty neighborhoods in Pittsburgh's East End, it has one of the best lunch menus in the City and maybe in the country.  My wife and I had lunch there recently and came away with the feeling that we had just had lunch at some New York or Los Angeles bistro; it was that good..

The Casbah offers a new menu daily. The day we were there, the offerings included tomato and basil bisque topped with a crostini, which my wife ate as part of the restaurant's "gusto" special, which I highly recommend. The "gusto" special, for $15, offers you the opportunity to taste three of the Casbah's lunch offerings. In addition to the creamy tomato bisque (which was excellent), my wife also enjoyed a mini crab cake (all lump crab meat) and a small pasta dish. I ordered the "gusto" special as well. My trio included a mini swordfish sandwich with a delicious aioli, a small salad with pieces of grilled corn, heirloom tomatoes and radishes. The third item was a small pasta dish with cavatelli pasta noodles  and  velvety ricotta cheese in a rich tomato sauce. The servers were prompt (filling glasses of ice tea immediately as soon as the glasses ran low ) and knowledgeable about the menu..

It was a terrific meal and if you find yourself in Pittsburgh at lunch time, I would recommend you stop in the Casbah.We have not eaten dinner there, but I am sure it is equally good.

The Casbah is located at 229 S Highland Avenue. The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating all year long on a covered patio. Parking, which can be problematic on the street, is available in a lot  next to the restaurant.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Living the Dream

Although the name of this blog is "Not Just for Boomers," occasionally I like to write to the boomers out there like  myself.  This is one of those posts that is directed mostly at boomers.  But I do think it will resonate with just about everyone.

As I wrote in my recent post, "Hidden Gem: Cape May, New Jersey," my wife and I recently spent a wonderful two days in Cape May.  During our visit there, we ate twice at the Lobster House restaurant, where the seafood and service were both excellent.  During our second visit to the restaurant, we sat next to a couple that appeared to be a lot like us, retired boomers on vacation. During the course of our meal, I happened to overhear the following conversation between the husband and his son who was on the other end of the phone:

"Hi son, yeah we are down here in Cape May at the Lobster House having dinner. How are
we doing? Son, I can only say one thing: 'We're living the dream.'"

Of course, I could only hear one side of the conversation, but I was simply wowed by what I heard.
And, by the way, if you happen to be that couple and you read this I apologize for eavesdropping, but I just had to share your comment.

"Living the Dream, " what a great thought! Too often we get bogged down in the bad things that happen to us.  We end up complaining to our friends or spouse about those aches and  pains, physical and emotional, that we all suffer as we grow older.  Now, here is  a man who probably has had his fair   share of those trial and tribulations, but he is grateful for the life he has. That is something definitely worth remembering.  We all have things for which we should be grateful: a loving spouse, a wonderful child or grandchild,  or maybe it's just waking up in the morning with all your parts still in order.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hidden Gem: Cape May, New Jersey

My wife and I recently returned from a short two day trip to Cape May, New Jersey. Cape May is probably not as well-known as some of it's South Jersey neighbors such as Ocean City, Wildwood or Stone Harbor.  But it certainly offers a sensational, one of a kind, vacation experience.

Located at the very Southern tip of the Jersey peninsula, Cape May offers unparalleled charm.
Cape  May is America's oldest seaside resort, having been established in the mid 18th century. To me, it looks like an English resort town such as Brighton. It is very Victorian in its architecture with many of the houses decorated with the traditional Victorian gingerbread. Because of the  multitude of historical homes, all ofCape May has been designated as a National Historic District. One of those houses, the Emlen Physick Estate is available for touring for a modest fee.

Cape May has over 30 hotels and motels,many of which are located directly across from the beach.We stayed at the Cape May Grand Hotel.  The hotel has free parking available It also has both an indoor and outdoor pool. Our third floor room was a typical beach room with a king bed, sofa, desk and a small balcony. The bathroom appeared to have been recently renovated.   There is a restaurant located off of the main lobby, called Hemingway's.  Specials are offered daily and everyday there is a very reasonably priced breakfast buffet. Give it a try.One person we met said that she and her whole family of 9 children eat the buffet as their breakfast and lunch. almost every day.

Over 40 to 50,000 vacationers visit Cape May each year. Many of the hotels and attractions are open   year round.The beach is quite nice with long expanses of sand protected by dunes.  We rented one of the cabanas  available across form our hotel and spent the day there. Comfort stations are available all along the beach. There is also a small arcade on the beach for rainy day entertainment.

In town, off  Ocean Street is an outdoor mall consisting of a number of shops and restaurants of all varieties. There is even a Stewart restaurant where in addition to the famous Stewart sodas, a full menu is offered.

Just outside of town is the Lobster House restaurant. The restaurant is huge, serving some 500 people at a serving, so get there early. My wife and I ate there twice, once having the lobsters and the second night, the fried shrimp dinners. Both were excellent and reasonably priced.  The shrimp, mu wife and I agreed, were probably the best fried shrimp we had ever eaten.

At the very tip of the peninsula is the Cape May Light.The lighthouse was built in 1859 and continues to be in operation. Although we  did not tour it this last time, we have previously climbed  its 217 steps to the top. Whew!

Another interesting attraction is a ferry that travels to Lewes,

If you are looking for a beach town with a difference, Cape May is for you.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The "Supermoon" Returns

In case you missed it earlier this summer as I did, you are in for good news: the Supermoon is back again tonight. The supermoon is called that because it is as close as the moon gets to the earth in its full phase. As a result of its proximity to the earth, it appears larger and brighter than usual. The moon will reach its peak for viewing purposes between 9 and 10 o'clock on the East Coast.

So, step outside and see a very rare sight in the sky. The next one will not be until  September 28, 2015.